OLD WESTBURY, N.Y. — To constantly remind himself about the plight of his relatives in Puerto Rico, men's basketball freshman Luis Cartagena Jr. has been wearing a piece of tape around his right wrist, inscribed with the letters "PR," since Hurricane Maria devastated the island.
He proudly did his part on Thursday as NYIT student-athletes loaded supplies they collected over the past week to send to Puerto Rico.
Spearheaded by volleyball coach Gail Wasmus, NYIT student-athletes on Thursday loaded a van with a couple dozen cases of water as well as canned goods, food and supplies. The supplies were en route to the Huntington Community Center, which is working with the U.S. National Guard to get the items to Puerto Rico.
"The whole van is full," said Wasmus, who has two recruits from the island who remain without power.
Cartagena's family in Puerto Rico — which he estimates at 20 people, including grandparents — thankfully is now all accounted for. One grandmother plans to travel to New York next week, where she can better organize relief efforts for others in distress.
The NYIT men's basketball team had been slated to play in a three-game tournament on the island during Thanksgiving week. That has been canceled, and the team instead has focused its attention on contributing by gathering supplies.
"This means a lot that my school is sending items where my family is," Cartagena said. "Everybody needs help. I would like every other school around us to get involved as well."